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Fork you, Oracle!

October 5, 2010

Well it finally happened, as we all knew it would. Oracle bought Sun and promptly pissed off a lot of people with its heavy-handed ways. Anybody who has followed Oracle’s past antics shouldn’t be surprised by its behavior since acquiring OpenOffice, nor the reaction from the open source community which can be simply summed up as follows:

Fork You, Oracle!

Yep, that’s about what’s coming to at this point. But before I get into how Oracle is going to be forked over by the open source community, let’s talk about why Oracle matters in the first place.

Why Oracle Matters
The open source community is understandably upset about Oracle taking over two products that are very important to desktop Linux:


OpenOffice.org is arguably the primary office suite for Linux. Sure, there are other office applications and some of them are quite good. But there really isn’t anything that can effectively compete with the sheer power and functionality available in OpenOffice.org right now. It is, understandably, one of the most popular desktop Linux applications available.

OpenOffice.org in Linux Mint.

VirtualBox is an amazing tool for distrohoppers who savor using different Linux distros and operating systems. It’s available for Linux, Mac and Windows. It provides a fast and easy way to run multiple distros and operating systems on any computer. Best of all, it’s free!

Oracle: Creepy and Sinister
Shortly after Oracle acquired Sun, both products suddenly began sporting Oracle logos and branding. As soon as I saw those Oracle logos, the hair on the back of my neck stood up and an enormous tidal wave of bile rose in my throat! Two of my favorite open source products, absorbed by Larry Ellison and his minions!

I can’t help it, I have just never liked Oracle as a company and I’m not about to start now. There’s always been something sinister and creepy about Oracle. Although I’m no fan of Microsoft, I always rooted for Microsoft when they fought with Oracle in years past. I’d take Bill Gates over Larry Ellison any day.

Some of you will no doubt think I’m mindlessly bashing Oracle. Hey, don’t take my word for it. Read what James Gosling had to say about the company. Gosling is the father of Java, and was a valued employee at Sun, until Oracle swallowed up the company like a ravenous amoeba.

Gosling seems to have gotten screwed on his compensation, lost any semblance of control over Java, and had to endure the creepiness of Larry Ellison:

Gosling says he felt the hand of Larry Ellison in nearly all the decisions affecting Java. Certainly IBM Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano would not personally get his hands into the goings on with an acquisition, even a key one like Sun. But then IBM is not the house that Sam built whereas Oracle is Ellison’s creation. There is a major difference in that.

From this reporter’s view, Gosling paints the picture of Ellison being like a sports magnate. Someone like Al “Just Win Baby” Davis, owner of the Oakland Raiders, who continually hires coaches and drafts talent only to run the show himself.

Although Gosling said he never had direct dealings with Ellison, “He’s the kind of person that just gives me the creeps,” he said. “All of the senior people at Sun got screwed compensation-wise. Their job titles may have been the same but their ability to decide anything was just gone.

You have to feel for Gosling and his colleagues after reading that article on eWeek. I had to wipe the filthy Oracle slime off when I was done reading it. Ick!

LibreOffice: Open Source Strikes Back!
The open source community is not taking Oracle’s crap; OpenOffice.org has already been forked into a new office suite called LibreOffice. The word libre comes from Spanish and French, and essentially means “free.” Thanks to a new organization called the Document Foundation, that’s exactly what LibreOffice will be: free. It will be free of Oracle’s ethically challenged behavior and Larry Ellison’s controlling hand.

Here’s some of what was in the official press release about LibreOffice:

The community of volunteers who develop and promote OpenOffice.org, the leading free office software, announce a major change in the project’s structure. After ten years’ successful growth with Sun Microsystems as founding and principal sponsor, the project launches an independent foundation called “The Document Foundation”, to fulfil the promise of independence written in the original charter.

The Foundation will be the cornerstone of a new ecosystem where individuals and organisations can contribute to and benefit from the availability of a truly free office suite. It will generate increased competition and choice for the benefit of  customers and drive innovation in the office suite market. From now on, the OpenOffice.org community will be known as “The Document Foundation”.

The Foundation will coordinate and oversee the development of LibreOffice, which is available in beta version at the placeholder site: http://www.libreoffice.org. Developers are invited to join the project and contribute to the code in the new friendly and open environment, to shape the future of office productivity suites alongside contributors who translate, test, document, support, and promote the software.

Novell is on board, as is Red Hat and Canonical. Even the folks that make NeoOffice for the Mac are supporting LibreOffice. So it’s off to a good start, so far.

The folks at the Document Foundation have encouraged Oracle to donate its rights to the OpenOffice.org trademark. Yeah, right. While I admire the optimism in encouraging Oracle to do that, I think it will be a cold day in Tartarus before that happens! Oracle’s greed is showing and it will never let go of OpenOffice.org until it has wrung every last possible dollar out of it.

What About VirtualBox?
Much of the media coverage of Oracle has focused on OpenOffice.org, but what about VirtualBox? While some might consider it less important than a popular office suite, I don’t agree at all. Distrohoppers everywhere love VirtualBox, it’s pretty much the best free alternative to VMWare and Parallels for those who enjoy using many different distros and operating systems regularly.

To date, I have not seen information related to a possible VirtualBox fork. I’m hoping that it happens though, and that it happens soon! The sooner VirtualBox is removed from the tentacles of Oracle, the better. The thought of it being exploited by Larry Ellison and his creepy goon squad leaves me cold, to say the least.

If you’ve heard of any kind of VirtualBox fork, please post the info and/or link in the comments. Thanks!

Final Thoughts
LibreOffice is off to a great start already, and I think it will be a harbinger of even greater things to come. If you want to check out LibreOffice, you can download a beta version of it right now. There are versions out for Linux (32 bit and 64 bit), as well as Windows and Mac versions. You can even download the source code if you want.

Hopefully we’ll start to see LibreOffice appear in various Linux distros soon, so it’ll be even easier to get it. I look forward to seeing it available for every distro I review on Desktop Linux Reviews. The sooner that Oracle and OpenOffice.org are history, the better off we’ll all be.

Viva LibreOffice!

What’s your take on Oracle’s creepiness and LibreOffice? Tell me in the comments.


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19 Responses to Fork you, Oracle!

  1. Steve on February 7, 2012 at 9:57 PM

    “I can’t help it, I have just never liked Oracle as a company and I’m not about to start now. There’s always been something sinister and creepy about Oracle. Although I’m no fan of Microsoft, I always rooted for Microsoft when they fought with Oracle in years past. I’d take Bill Gates over Larry Ellison any day.”

    There’s not a lot of rational thought going on here. You are unhappy because after Oracle bought Sun the “Sun” logo was removed from Java and replaced by an “Oracle” one? What the fork, indeed.

    There may be good reasons to oppose Oracle’s takeover of Open Office etc, but you don’t present them here.

  2. Meh on November 25, 2011 at 5:43 AM

    Everything in Linux can be forked except drivers lets face it that is one thing we simply can’t get right, sure there are alternatives but nothing strong or lasting.

  3. Novell, why not open (source) *nix? on October 13, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    [...] was just to take over open source products and turn them into profit. Now the community had to fork everything they can from this evil company. We really ought to be very careful with whom we give [...]

  4. Bill Julian on October 11, 2010 at 12:36 PM

    Well said, Jim. I can only add my vote to the comments made here. One has to hope LibreOffice takes off and that other FOSS efforts save the other Sun projects.

    My guess? As I watch the Gnu/Linux community it is sufficiently large and talented that any corporate effort to control & exploit it will fail.

    If I am right Open Office will wither as will the other Sun properties once Mr. Ellison sees no revenue stream from them. Meanwhile the Linux community will produce follow-ons to VB, MySQL, OO and other properties.

  5. djk123 on October 7, 2010 at 8:53 PM

    Oracle Open Office Standard Edition
    (Perpetual License)

    / Application User

    Check this out – - – -


    It’s for sale now!

  6. kaddy on October 7, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    You See this Oracle??? Nobody Likes your ways… and this is going to effect your business if you don’t start playing nicely. You can try and grip on to as many OpenSource projects as you like and screw over the community…. but in the end… You Lose. We win. We Don’t Need You

  7. Jobin Augustine on October 7, 2010 at 8:21 AM

    To me, everything happened for good.
    MySQL is forked by Monty (MariaDB) aswell as Community (Drizzle project).
    Now community grown to a such an extend that very month on average 700+ commits are happening to project. and there are 100+ contributors now. there are other companies like Rackspace sponsoring the development with paying developers.
    Effectively the project is in top gear. building up excellent modular code base (unlike original MySQL)
    I see Drizzle as the future for MySQL.

  8. jumbli on October 7, 2010 at 6:51 AM

    There is another fork of mysql- drizzle.
    There are plenty of alternatives to using mysql – PostgreSQL, Hadoop, couchdb..

  9. phlo on October 7, 2010 at 5:29 AM

    What about MySQL?

    • Brian Masinick on October 7, 2010 at 6:19 AM

      As mentioned in a previous post: Look at Monty’s fork called MariaDB, it is the fork of MySQL.

  10. js on October 6, 2010 at 4:07 AM

    Bravo to the TDF, I will switch asap. Glad mySQL is already forked to…although not mentioned here..Look at Monty’s fork called MariaDB,

    I am waiting with anticipation for VirtualBox to Forked also.

    Oracle will never play nice..why would they?
    Ellison will continue to sell his overpriced cr@p to ignorant customers until they wake up.

    A CEO friend in the Merger/Acq. business hates Oracle so much, he immediately replaces any Oracle enterprise software from any company they buy. I dont blame him!

  11. Brian Masinick on October 6, 2010 at 4:03 AM

    I agree with the previous comment, except for this: “It’s time the U.S. government steps in and buys Oracle in a hostile takeover, then redistributing the software back as FOSS.”

    Since WHEN has the U.S. government EVER been the one to provide the answers to any problem, other than national defense, which they can manage to mess up too?

    I tend to lean toward the smallest possible government and then leave it to the people themselves, using common goals, to decide what and what not to do. Let the market decide in the case of software freedom. If Oracle gets ugly enough, people themselves will revolt, it will not take government action to make it happen!

  12. Kenny Strawn on October 5, 2010 at 11:03 PM

    I agree with this article 100%: The evil $$-wrenching tentacles of Oracle are doing to the open source community what Plymouth (the boot splash) is doing to Ubuntu: reaching into every corner of the FOSS community and grabbing every possible FOSS project that could have belonged to any company they bought, making proprietary software out of FOSS in any way that they can.

    It’s time the U.S. government steps in and buys Oracle in a hostile takeover, then redistributing the software back as FOSS.

  13. Shane Kerns on October 5, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    No one lives forever, soon Larry, Ellison, Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer will die and along with them will go their legacy (or lack thereof). Open source’s legacy is that by its very nature it will live on forever.
    Oracle, MS, Apple will soon have new CEOs and each of them will take their companies in a slightly different direction, some maybe hard asses and some maybe more liberal. In the end FOSS does not need a new CEO or any of that crap and so will live on forever.

  14. Logan on October 5, 2010 at 7:19 PM

    I agree. Fork You Oracle!

    Already running LibreOffice on my machines.

  15. Jim Lynch on October 5, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    I hear you, Brian. But I doubt that Ellison would. Oracle has never had a good attitude in that regard, unfortunately.

  16. New Section: Eye On Linux! on October 5, 2010 at 2:15 AM

    [...] you see the Oracle column? That one has been bubbling around in the back of my head for a while. Fork You, Oracle! | Eye On Linux New to the DLR forum? Welcome! Great to have you with us! Feel free to introduce yourself. [...]

  17. Brian Masinick on October 5, 2010 at 2:14 AM

    I had hoped that Oracle would show some responsibility. Beware of MySQL, too, if Oracle is really going to be a poor soldier for free software. We have PostgreSQL, but MySQL is pretty deeply entrenched in a LOT of stuff. MySQL may have actually been reason 1 (and Java reason two) why Oracle even wanted Sun. I have my doubts that Oracle cares about the hardware business, and I would not be at all surprised if they sell off that part at some time in the future. HP would have made a good buyer, but now, the way Oracle is making enemies, I’m not too sure. I wonder if Dell would like some hardware? Then again, that could SINK Dell. They’ve lost focus as it is; they need to focus on a core business!

    Oracle, you’re big, but you are not making any new friends. Everybody needs partners, even you!

    • me on October 7, 2010 at 9:09 PM

      MySQL was already forked to MariaDB. And there are even more forks of MySQL…

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